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03-16-2009, 11:43 AM   #1
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Buying a Film SLR, need pointers

Hello!

I'm a happy Pentax dSLR owner who'd like to buy a film SLR. Now I know what to look for when it comes to today's digital models, but being only slightly older than a teenager, I have little clue when it comes to yesterday's film camera's. So, with the risk of asking some seriously stupid questions, I'm here for some tips what to look for when buying a film SLR. Any comments on which models are recommended and which are best avoided are also very welcome.

- I own a Metz 48 AF1 flash, I tried it on an mz-50 and they seemed to be communicating allright, how far back will my flash and film SLRs be compatible?

- I would figure not all models come with lightmetering?

- Is there actually much difference between different models when it comes to the quality of the picture? In other words, should I focus more on what lens comes with the camera? Is there any noticable difference in quality when it comes to what film you buy?

- Are there any models that come with a focus-help for manual lenses (like my k100 does)? Or is this a bit of a non-issue since the viewfinders are large and bright enough for it not to matter?

- Something about film in general, can you change lenses while you're in the middle of a film?

- Anything else I should be aware of?

Apologies if this belongs in the beginnersection.

03-16-2009, 12:38 PM   #2
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QuoteQuote:
- I own a Metz 48 AF1 flash, I tried it on an mz-50 and they seemed to be communicating allright, how far back will my flash and film SLRs be compatible?
I cant help you on the metz, I don't use flashes and all I own is a once used AF280T and an old superlite II.

QuoteQuote:
- I would figure not all models come with lightmetering?
speaking of Pentax cameras. you would have to go all the way back to an SV (1962) to have a camera without a built in meter. of course as you get more modern the meter gets more sophisticated and automated. so this won't be an issue if you are only looking for K mount bodies.

QuoteQuote:
Is there actually much difference between different models when it comes to the quality of the picture? In other words, should I focus more on what lens comes with the camera? Is there any noticable difference in quality when it comes to what film you buy?
the camera itself has no effect on picture quality in regards to its basic functions. of course how you use and utilize said camera and its features will certainly have an effect. this of course matters more with modern bodies, not so much with older manual bodies. what lens comes with the camera may or may not be an issue. are you looking to purchase a K mount camera? yes, yes there is. but I would be more concerned with the developing of the film and the ability of the person(s) you choose to let handle this task. as developing can have a huge impact on the quality of your photos.

QuoteQuote:
- Are there any models that come with a focus-help for manual lenses (like my k100 does)? Or is this a bit of a non-issue since the viewfinders are large and bright enough for it not to matter?
more modern AF Pentax bodies I assume do have the same or similar type of focus confirmation for manual lenses like that of your digital body, however not owning any modern AF body I cannot say for sure. this depends on what model you choose to purchase. if you are looking for a body designed for manual lenses, then yes your viewfinder will be large, bright and easy to use concerning confirmation of focus. (typically with a split-image type of focusing screen).

QuoteQuote:
- Something about film in general, can you change lenses while you're in the middle of a film?
yes, you can. the film is only exposed when you press the shutter and the shutter curtain opens. it is the same process with your digital. when the shutter is not depressed the curtain is closed and the sensor is not exposed. you can see the process very well upon purchasing a body. just open the back (with no film loaded or lens attatched) set the shutter speed to a slow setting,depress the shutter and watch the shutter curtain open and close.
03-16-2009, 12:48 PM   #3
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First off, the good news: all Pentax film cameras will work great for you. The less good news: some may have limitations you don't need, since the models without these limitations are plentiful and just as cheap. Also, people will end up recommending only the 'top' camera of any era... the next one down usually is fine too. And the one down from that.

Just me, I'd stay away from the 'crippled KA' cameras, there's websites that explain the different K mounts. I've ended up with a ZX-10 (next down from a ZX-5) auto focus, Program Plus (down from a Super Program), and a KX (down from a K2).... MX, ME Super, on and on the good ones go.

To get more of the classic build, a manual focus camera is a good thing. I'd suggest the two Program cameras (Program Plus and Super Program) or the ME Super et al Aperture Priority automatics. These may have enough modernity to talk to your Metz in dedicated compatibility mode (flash sets the camera automatically, with the program cameras)...

All K mount cameras come with built in meters. You got your manual match needle, your aperture priority, and your full program. Back in screw mount days you could get one without a meter.

Camera bodies offer convenience, reliability, and multiple options as to exposure and metering modes, and other such features. Otherwise, their job is to hold the film flat, the lens securely, and to time the shutter precisely. I.e. one well working camera is equivalent to any other well working camera in that respect. (The K1000 is the bare bones of bare bones cameras, but it sold for decades because it did what it is supposed to do.)

Lens - many or most of the manual focus era cameras come with a prime lens, usually one of the Pentax 50mm jobs. Any one of these 50's is superb, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. If it comes, say with a 28 or a 35 or a 40 or some other Pentax, that's way cool too.

The auto focus models, and some manual focus ones, come with a zoom, 35-70, 28-80 or some such. Many are junk, often the tell tale is f/5.6 or similar at the long end. But it's not the camera's fault, it was sold with this abomination (my ZX-10 came with one such quasimodo). There are of course good film era zooms as well. You can do a bit of research around this if you're so inclined.

Note, you can use your lenses from the digital camera on any Program body - Super Program or Program Plus - in program mode.

Film? Yeah, it makes a difference, though I tend to buy what's cheap at the moment from Kodak or Fuji.

The manual focus cameras have a split prism (often) and a micro prism in the view finder, these work great. There is a Pentax model (name escapes me) that had the af assist... The auto focus pentaxes are like the digital ones, but with a bigger vf.

You can change lenses while loaded with film - the focal plane shutter keeps light out of the film.

Anything else you should be aware of? My recommendation - get one of the program cameras or a ME super, some film from the local drug store, and shoot! Have the film developed and put to CD by the same local drug store. Post the pictures.
03-16-2009, 12:49 PM   #4
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
I cant help you on the metz, I don't use flashes and all I own is a once used AF280T and an old superlite II.
I don't actually anticipate using the combination much. I guess if it works, it works, if it doesn't, there's always the k100d.

QuoteQuote:
speaking of Pentax cameras. you would have to go all the way back to an SV (1962) to have a camera without a built in meter. of course as you get more modern the meter gets more sophisticated and automated. so this won't be an issue if you are only looking for K mount bodies.
I am indeed only looking for a K mount body, so that's good to know.

QuoteQuote:
more modern AF Pentax bodies I assume do have the same or similar type of focus confirmation for manual lenses like that of your digital body, however not owning any modern AF body I cannot say for sure. this depends on what model you choose to purchase. if you are looking for a body designed for manual lenses, then yes your viewfinder will be large, bright and easy to use concerning confirmation of focus. (typically with a split-image type of focusing screen).
Reading around the forums about why people still use film made me realise that the appeal to me is the tuned down, slow paced, think-it-through way of taking pictures. I love using my 55mm 1.8 manual lens on my dSLR, probably because it's not as rediculously easy as the modern zooms are. I think I've just decided to buy a manual body.

thanks for your help!

03-16-2009, 01:01 PM   #5
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
Note, you can use your lenses from the digital camera on any Program body - Super Program or Program Plus - in program mode.
Really? I thought them being designed for cropbodies produced major vignetting?

QuoteQuote:
Anything else you should be aware of? My recommendation - get one of the program cameras or a ME super, some film from the local drug store, and shoot! Have the film developed and put to CD by the same local drug store. Post the pictures.
I will when the time comes, for now, my digital results are online here: Picasa Web Albums - Kevin Schoenmakers
03-16-2009, 01:37 PM   #6
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QuoteOriginally posted by kevinschoenmakers Quote
I don't actually anticipate using the combination much. I guess if it works, it works, if it doesn't, there's always the k100d.



I am indeed only looking for a K mount body, so that's good to know.



Reading around the forums about why people still use film made me realise that the appeal to me is the tuned down, slow paced, think-it-through way of taking pictures. I love using my 55mm 1.8 manual lens on my dSLR, probably because it's not as rediculously easy as the modern zooms are. I think I've just decided to buy a manual body.

thanks for your help!
ha! you and me will get along fine. the 55mm 1.8 is my favourite lens and is almost always mounted to any camera I use. how slow and 'think it through' are you looking for? do you want any automation at all? maybe just AE? full program AE? Pentax has quite a number of excellent cameras that will fit what you want, we just need to narrow it down a bit. you might want to rummage through this site. a wealth of information. Welcome to Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page

QuoteQuote:
Really? I thought them being designed for cropbodies produced major vignetting?
depends on the lens and the focal length you are using it at.
03-16-2009, 02:04 PM   #7
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QuoteOriginally posted by séamuis Quote
ha! you and me will get along fine. the 55mm 1.8 is my favourite lens and is almost always mounted to any camera I use. how slow and 'think it through' are you looking for? do you want any automation at all? maybe just AE? full program AE? Pentax has quite a number of excellent cameras that will fit what you want, we just need to narrow it down a bit. you might want to rummage through this site. a wealth of information. Welcome to Bojidar Dimitrov's Pentax K-Mount Page
I don't really need for AF to begin with, and then there's light metering in the viewfinder which would be very welcome.

What exactly do you mean by AE? The only AE I know is the AE-Lock on my k100d to hold the exposure settings. Do you mean what automatic exposure modes I'd want?

I've looked through that site and the ME (Super), seems a good pick to me. Also because there's plenty ones for sale on second-hand websites, which helps.

By the way, what's depth of field preview? The name pretty much speaks for itself, I know, but how does it work?

QuoteQuote:
depends on the lens and the focal length you are using it at.
Would I be able to use my kitlens at 18mm, for example?
03-16-2009, 04:13 PM   #8
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At 18mm you get a quasi fish-eye view on film. Dark corners, circular image (or nearly so). Nifty effect, I think.

If you truly want the old time manual exposure, slow down, learn the tricks kind of photography, the manual exposure Pentaxes are your ticket. None of the exposure automation of the ME and program series... just a match needle and you're good to go.

Of course, if you bother going there, might as well open up to the wonders of Spotmatics and Super / SMC Takumars.

But in a more real world, the ME super offers Av - aperture priority. You set your K mount, any K-mount, but it has to have an aperture ring, to your aperture of choice, and the camera sets shutter speed.

The program cameras offer the same luxury with all K mount lenses with aperture rings. In addition, with SMC-A lenses (and all the autofocus ones) they allow program mode - which is just the same as on your digital camera.

03-16-2009, 04:27 PM   #9
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QuoteOriginally posted by Nesster Quote
At 18mm you get a quasi fish-eye view on film. Dark corners, circular image (or nearly so). Nifty effect, I think.
That would indeed be quite a toy. I've wanted to have a lens more wide-angle than the 18mm I get with my kitlens on my dSLR for quite some time, but any lens <18mm is hugely expensive and thus pretty much out of the question. So this would be a great way to solve that.

DA lenses don't work on the K and M series though, which was sort of what I was thinking of getting.

Hmm, choices, choices, choices.
03-17-2009, 02:51 AM   #10
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QuoteQuote:
DA lenses don't work on the K and M series though, which was sort of what I was thinking of getting.

Hmm, choices, choices, choices.
Gee - that's why everyone ends up with a K, an M, and a Program, I mean, they are cheap enough these days...
03-17-2009, 06:25 AM   #11
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QuoteOriginally posted by kevinschoenmakers Quote
By the way, what's depth of field preview? The name pretty much speaks for itself, I know, but how does it work?
It's a lever or button that manually stops down the lens to the set aperture while you frame your shot. This enables you to see how things will be focused in the final image. Of course, it also makes the view darker ...

You can get the same information using the depth of field scale on the lens. Since the ME Super unfortunately lacks DOF preview, that is what I did for many years. It's easy enough once you get the hang of it.
03-17-2009, 10:02 AM   #12
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The local photography store has a ProgramA, P30, P30N and an ME (all without a lens) for sale, but prices are pretty steep (80 to 40 euros respectively) compared to what's on sale on eBay and similar websites.

Anyway, I think I know enough to make a decision, thanks everyone and I'll let you know what I end up with
03-17-2009, 10:14 AM   #13
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My first film camera was the K1000. It is simple to use and teaches the basics. nothing fancy. It has a good viewfinder and the light meter is great to use and very simple. What it lacks in extras it makes uo for in image quality. The prob is that sometimes used ones can get a little expensive as they are popular with students. Another camera I use is my P3N it excepts the same lenses as my K1000 and offers a few extras that the k1000 lacks. (dof preview,self timer, exposure lock) Not to mention it is much more affordable.

I bought both these cameras long before bought my K100d but the fact that I could use my older manual focus lenses from the two camera was def. a plus. When I bought my K100d I also bought a tamron 28-200mm af F/3.8 and was pleased to find that i could pop that right on the k1000.

I guess my suggestion is go with what students learn with. I did by accident and it has helped me so much. It will help you learn aperture and shutter speed control with out the reliance of auto settings. the standard lens for the K1000 is a 50mm 1.7. it is fast and reliable for great images. I def prefer it over my tamron lens esp. in low light.

The camera does not have focus assist but you will see if you get one that it isnt really a problem. The focusing screen is sufficent.

I started, like alot of people, shooting drugstore film. The picture quality was great and now that I shoot good film the results are even better. (Btw-drugstores crop the crap out of your pics.)

If you find a K1000 with 50mm 1.7 lens it I would stick with that (lens). It probably wouldn't be good for taking pics of gorillas in east africa, though. You might want to pick up a zoom for that. (nice pics by the way)

my advice...keep it simple.

Last edited by jadams360; 03-17-2009 at 08:33 PM.
03-17-2009, 11:35 AM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by jadams360 Quote
If you find a K1000 with 50mm 1.7 lens it I would stick with that (lens). It probably wouldn't be good for taking pics of gorillas in east africa, though. You might want to pick up a zoom for that. (nice pics by the way)

my advice...keep it simple.
Hehe, you can actually get rediculously close to them as they're total pacifists. Most people assume they all come with King Kong-like aggression, but they don't, they just sit on their ass and eat leaves. The Africa pictures were made with a point-and-click, and I don't think it can zoom in much beyond 50mm.

I think I will keep it simple, The old metal camera's just look too damn good, don't they?
03-17-2009, 12:13 PM   #15
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I have a couple of Spotmatics, 2 K1000, 1 ME Super and 1 Super progrom. Various Super-Takumars and other Pentax lenses. You need a Pentax-A for the Super Program; for the others: any Pentax-M will do. I'd stick to Manual without automation. At the end is the guy behind the camera that counts. That's why you should learn photography and all it's tricks. Later you can use any camera and take great pictures. A great photographer takes great pictures with just a normal lens (50mm). I.E. Cartier-Bresson. I'd follow Nesster's advice and go for a Spotmatic with an SMC Super-Takumar 1.4
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